Posted 04 May 2010 - 09:15 PM
The darkness was blown back by Jordan, once again bathing their campsite in natural moonlight. The images of a battered Rhiannon vanished along with the inky dark, but the real one was still nowhere to be found. Synile was also gone. That wasn't good. Perhaps they had been taken by the horrible monster that had insulted Selena's pride. The severed tentacles were wriggling their way back into the trees. Going back to the master, were they? Selena would make quick work of it and have her revenge. Without warning, she sprinted into the trees in the direction the tentacles were heading, feet barely touching the ground as she fled the camp. She found the hulking monster waiting in the undergrowth. Six long tentacles emerged from the branches as a low, slimy body slithered out into the open. One of the tentacles lashed out at her. She rolled forward, beneath the strike and closer to the beast's main body. She stabbed out with her spear, hitting the monster on its side. It howled - a low, guttural sound. A second tentacle wrapped itself around her waist and flung her back ten feet. She landed on her shoulder, but it wasn't rough enough to cause any damage. She rolled back up.
Two tentacles came at her at once. A swing of her spear severed them from their master. Then, Selena stopped. The deep puncture wound she inflicted on the beast's side reformed, and all the tentacles she had severed thus far crawled back onto the monster - merging into its flesh. Flesh regeneration. Oh, but there was always a vulnerable core somewhere, even if she had to find and stab the monster's heart using the full length of her weapon. She held her hand out and shot a ball of chaotic energy into her foe's body. It did nothing. The spell hit a barrier that wasn't really there, the energy diffusing after a bright impact. Well, so much for the magical side of her arsenal.
You use the power of chaos. There is a great price to be paid for using such techniques. Chaos does not undo chaos.
The tentacle monster suddenly split into three segments and reformed into a trio of gigantic, long-limbed spiders that stood nearly as tall as Selena did. Their fangs dripped with venom and Selena, with her infamous arachnophobia, couldn't help but backpedal in sudden fright at their appearance. When her right foot came down, the ground gave way. Sticks, leaves, and one shocked Selena tumbled into a long, thin tunnel. She slid down until a final drop landed her into the middle of a black cavern. No problem for Selena. She'd been raised in the underground and could see just fine. She looked up at the top of the tunnel, seeing the stars in the distance. Then, the figures of the spiders, all crawling down the tunnel to hunt her down.
Gah! Shape shifting tentacle-rape-spider-monster!
She looked around the cavern for any decent terrain and found none. There were tunnels that led off into the unknown, but the current chamber was large enough to fight in. No sense in risking a move into a small arena. Selena firmly planted her feet, linking herself with the earth, and awaited her guests. With three ear-piercing screeches, the fiends came down from the tunnel entrance and began to circle her. Fast little fuckers! One lunged at her, and Selena leapt into the air, coming back down upon it. She stabbed the spider's back end with her spear and pulled, ripping it open. She dismounted and found a second coming at her at top speed, legs crawling over each other in a mad dash. It attempted to bite, but Selena leapt to the side and stabbed out with her weapon, piercing it on the side of the head. With a howl, it hit the ground. The third charged her straight on, and rather than do any fancy footwork, Selena dropped to a knee and used her weapon to strike the monster between all eight eyes. Screw spiders. She wasn't afraid of anything. Not really.
Except, perhaps, the corpses of her three enemies once again shapeshifting into a thousand and a half baby huntsman spiders, all to come crawling up Selena's limbs until they covered her body. She would have screamed, but she didn't want them to climb into her mouth. Her body swarmed by the things, she dropped her spear out of fear and released a wave of Lazu's magic out as far and fast as she could, sending a shockwave off her body that threw the little bastards up against the cavern's walls.
Once again, they gathered and began to reform.
It was Keel's voice this time. You are a cheap imitation and nothing else! She knows all of your tricks - taught you them in the first place! She can do them all and better! You will fail if you rise to challenge her. Your art of backstabbing is useless against one who can see all, and battle tactics are irrelevant when facing a woman who can destroy entire lands in one fell swoop.
Her beast turned into a unit of enemy warriors, and all were from various backgrounds hostile to Selena. Hall knights. Chamber sages. Desert Defenders. Alliance soldiers. Pirates, Woodies, and Kakkies, oh my. An Alliance soldier shot an arrow at her, and she dodged with speed only centuries of training and Lazu's influence could give her. She tapped her to the Kanagida's power, allowing it to fuel her primal instincts so that it might increase her violence and battle lust. Before the crossbowman could fire again, Selena sprinted forward and pierced his stomach, spear driving right through his armor. Her muscles tightened, the power of the Kanagida - the power of Lazu - fueling her cells. With a battle cry, she deflected the attack of a sword-wielding Hall knight and stabbed him through the face. She bashed another in the head with the rear end of her weapon, stunning him long enough to duck beneath a fireball fired by the Chamber sage. One by one, they fell, until only a dark knight of the village was left to face her. The warrior brought down an axe, but she dodged and moved to attack. Her spear went right through him, but he did not seem bothered, standing as if he were waiting in a line.
The witch's voice. You are just a mortal that has overstayed her welcome in this world because of chaotic power. Your skills against other mortal warlords do not matter. You could crush the other rulers of the planet, yet still be defeated at the hands of a god. You are a defiant priestess, and that is all.
The dark knight impaled by her spear shrank at by at least two feet and a hundred pounds. Black, spiked armor vanished and was replaced by a lighter combat suit. Features became feminine, hair going from black to red.
You are not a human. You are a savage beast. You know nothing beyond fighting. You have no companions - only tools to be exploited as necessary. You do not feel emotion, but you will feel pain.
The warrior had become Chikara, who was still not bothered by the fact that the spear was impaled through her stomach. Bah! It was a trap!
In fact, Chikara smiled, reached behind her, and bent the spear tip so that it could not be removed from her body. Selena tried in vain to yank it back out with all her strength, but it would not budge. Instead, "Chikara" charged her at inhuman speed, grabbing her by the throat with her familiar dark talon-nails. The speed of the impact knocked Selena's head against the cave wall, the force so great that it nearly knocked her cold. The vision of Chikara clamped down on her throat, interrupting her airway. Selena kicked her on the right side of her hip. It gave her more room. She took hold of her sprear and, instead of pulling, pushed the goddess away until she was no longer able to hold onto Selena's neck. She gasped for air.
"You BITCH!" Selena shouted, voice hoarse from the attempted choke. "I should have known that you'd be cowardly enought to lure me into a trap. Didn't want to fight my armies after all, did you? What sort of honorable fight is this? I'm not some useless Hall warrior. You're supposed to enjoy the war, not end it now."
Chikara listens to taunts. You can manipulate her in this way. The god does not care.
The goddess placed her hands back on the spear and sent a wave of fire down its length, burning Selena's fingers and arms. Selena released her hold on the weapon, and Chikara once again moved down its length until it exited through her back entirely. She shot forward and pinned Selena to the ground, shoving her nails into the same exact spot where the knife had stabbed her in the gut. Like four little daggers, the nails tore Selena's flesh once again, burning and bleeding. With her other arm, Chikara elbowed her in the face, cutting a small bit of flesh above her eye. Selena punched, but it did no good. She charged a chaotic beam of energy and released it into Chikara's chest, but the energy cut around her like river water against a bothersome rock, shooting into the top of the cavern and sending rocks down around her.
She released all the magic she had, enough to kill a whole horde of enemies at once, but it had the same effect. With Chikara still assaulting her, Selena heard the cavern groan and creak. The back began to cave in. The tunnel out was the first thing to go. Then it cascaded toward her. Chikara released her and Selena got up and ran, wounded to the point where it was a struggle to move, much less move quickly. She went down one of the other passageways, a narrow thing that led into further darkness. Chikara chased after her and, cornering her in the long, narrow passageway, she bent down like a runner.
Selena withdrew her dagger. She charged up what remaining magic she had.
When Chikara dashed toward her with a sword drawn, Selena release the power of Lazu, as she'd always been taught to master, and watched in horror as it did little to stop the goddess. She ran right through and, within a few parts of a single second, she felt Chikara's blade pierce her neck. Her vision went black. The cavern collapsed around the both of them.
She woke in a fully intact cavern an untold time later, no injuries and no tentacle-rape-spider-knight-Chikara-monsters. Everything was silent. The tunnel back out was still intact. Selena trembled as she stood back up, her hands barely able to hold onto her weapons. She looked around. Nothing, save for a single item on the cavern floor. Selena stumbled over and looked down. It was a clean human skull.
Take it. As proof of your failure, rather than proof of your success. You cannot win, thing of chaos.
You fucking hag! I am not a useless piece of flesh! I am a better warrior than anyone up there right now! I could dance circles around them and decapitate every single one of them in an instant! There is no one better equipped to fight with her! They don't stand a chance!
Then perhaps you should study order rather than chaos. Only order will undo it.
Do not insult me.
You are a spoiled, pampered brat. You are so confident that Chikara's favor will spare your life, and you never intended to actually kill her - not then, not now. Chikara will not be there when it matters. Only the god. The god values nothing. You ARE a useless piece of flesh in this war, and you will one day be driven out of your lands and left to wander alone on account of your sins against humanity. And you will go on killing until you become the demon-beast you are on the inside. You will be slain, and you will be forgotten.
Silence. Selena picked up the skull and hurled it against the cavern wall with a loud roar. It did not break. Rather, it rolled right back to her. She yelled again, loud as her lungs allowed, venting all her frustrations in that one exclamation. When it was over, her shoulders hunched over and her body weary, she reluctantly climbed back out of the tunnel and up to the surface. No beasts. No spiders. Nothing. Just the dark forest and the distant glow of the campfire.
She was the elite warrior of the group. She was supposed to have won. She was supposed to have won with no difficulty, making herself look like the invulnerable warrior she'd made herself out to be. Her pride couldn't take defeat. Internally, she felt as defeated as she really was, but she put her shoulders back and came back to the camp with a proud look upon her face.
She threw down the skull and rested her weight against the perfectly intact Kanagida spear.
"My trial is complete."